‘Hell or High Water’ Writer ‘Humbled’ by Oscar Nod for Film About Embattled Working Class

“Doesn’t it feel to you that the middle class isn’t so forgotten now?” Taylor Sheridan tells TheWrap

Taylor Sheridan said Tuesday he was “humbled” to receive his first Oscar nomination for his screenplay for “Hell or High Water,” an underdog indie that snagged four nods, including Best Picture.

The screenwriter said director David McKenzie’s film — starring Chris Pine and Ben Foster as brothers who turn to crime to try to save their family farm — tapped into a current mood about the plight of the working class in America.

“Doesn’t it feel to you that the middle class isn’t so forgotten now?” said Sheridan, whose credits also include another topical film, “Sicario.” “It’s coincidental — the film came out at a time when we were really frustrated and I think nothing has been resolved but you’re starting to see a mobilization.”

Sheridan had high praise for McKenzie, who failed to secure a nomination in the directing category, as well as the cast — including Best Supporting Actor nominee Jeff Bridges. “There was so much honesty in the direction and the acting and just such a commitment for the screenplay to get recognized,” he told TheWrap.

He also heaped compliments on the competition.

“I thought that ‘Moonlight’ was incredible in every regard and I was fortunate enough to have met [writer-director] Barry [Jenkins] on this journey,” he said. “I am a massive fan of what Denis [Villeneuve] does — ‘Arrival’ was incredible. What’s reaffirming is that so many films had such a wide spectrum… from ‘La La Land,’ which is a musical to ‘Hell or High Water,’ which is a very personal story.”

Last month, TheWrap interviewed Sheridan for its magazine, in which he said that the movie was released at a perfect time, given that the country had just gone through a “painful” election:

“I’ve heard people say ‘Hell or High Water’ is the voice of this frustrated, forgotten middle class,” he had said. “I thought it would be unifying, and I think it can [help us] recognize, ‘Oh wow, poor is just poor, and corporate greed is corporate greed. Look how similar we are.'”